This delicious Apple Pecan Salad is made with bacon, chicken (optional), and light balsamic dressing.  Serve it as a side or add chicken and make it a meal!
This is a copycat of Wendy’s Apple Pecan Salad and I love to serve it along side a bowl of soup or with some homemade breadsticks to make it a more filling meal.
Overhead view of a green salad with grilled, chopped chicken, chopped apples, bacon and pecans.

Apple Pecan Salad

I often get inspiration for recipes while eating out and a trip to Wendy’s craving a juicy hamburger resulted in me ordering their apple, bacon, pecan salad instead because it sounded amazing!  This salad is similar, but it’s way better, paired with a light balsamic that adds the perfect sweetness.  Add grilled chicken to the salad for a filling lunch or dinner, or leave the chicken out and serve the salad as a side or appetizer!

Tips For Making a Healthy Salad:

  • Choose the right Greens.  The type of lettuce in your salad really matters.  If you want to pack in the nutrients, make sure you’re eating dark greens like spinach or arugula instead of a more water based lettuce, like iceberg or romaine.
  • Fried or grilled? If you have protein on your salad, opt for grilled instead of fried and you’ll save big on added fats without sacrificing the protein.
  • Dressing is key!  Any salad can be made “unhealthy” by covering it in a high fat or high sugar dressing.  For healthier (and lower calorie) salad dressings, look for oil or vinegar based dressings, like vinaigrettes, rather than creamy dressings, like ranch, caesar and blue cheese.

A green salad with three toppings laid in sections on top of the lettuce including chopped red apples, pecans and crumbled bacon.

How to Make Healthy Balsamic Dressing:

  • Combine garlic, dijon, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper in a bowl.
  • Whisk dressing ingredients together.
  • Serve or store.  Store excess dressing in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

A white bowl with balsamic vinegar, mustard and oil in it to mix for dressing a salad in the background.

How to Keep Salad Fresh:

  • Store separately.  For the freshest salad, store the ingredients separately and toss them just before eating.  You can also store everything together except for the dressing to help your salad keep for an extra day or two.
  • Use paper towels.  If you have washed your lettuce or have fruits or fresh vegetable in your salad, you can place a paper towel at the bottom of your bag or bowl to help absorb the extra moisture in the salad. This will help your lettuce stay fresh and crisp.

A bowl of green salad with chopped apples in it and wooden serving tongs.

Check our all my salad recipes! Some of my favorites include:

 

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Recipe

Overhead view of a green salad with grilled, chopped chicken, chopped apples, bacon and pecans.
Prep 15 mins
Total 15 mins
Add to Meal Plan

Ingredients
  

For the Salad:

  • 2 heads Lettuce , chopped (I like to use a mixture of red leaf, spring mix, and spinach)
  • 1-2 Fuji apples , washed and diced
  • 5 slices bacon , cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 pound cooked chicken , chopped

For the Light Balsamic Dressing:

  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper , to taste

Instructions
 

  • Toss lettuce, apples, bacon, pecans, and chicken in a large bowl.
  • Whisk dressing ingredients together and pour over salad. Toss to combine. Enjoy!

Notes

To make ahead: Store the main salad ingredients separately and toss them just before eating.  After chopping the apples, add a splash of lemon juice to them to keep them from browning.
If you have washed your lettuce you can place a paper towel at the bottom of the bag or bowl to help absorb the extra moisture in the salad. This will help your lettuce stay more fresh.

Nutrition

Calories: 457kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 38gFat: 25gSaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 115mgSodium: 293mgPotassium: 829mgFiber: 6gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 1401IUVitamin C: 10mgCalcium: 78mgIron: 3mg

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*Nutritional facts do not include dressing.

 

Have you tried this recipe?!

RATE and COMMENT below! I would love to hear your experience.

 

I originally shared this recipe October 2013. Updated October 2019.

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About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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Comments

  1. I know what you mean about Wendy’s I went in 7 times in a week had the strawberry chicken salad sooo! good,thanks for the recipe will try it out soon

  2. 5 stars
    Great recipe for a hearty and refreshing salad! We added feta, dried dates and the optional chicken. Sooo yummy. Thank you!

  3. 5 stars
    My kids have never been so happy to have salad for dinner. They all gave it a 5 Star rating. My 11 year old son said the only thing he would change is add more bacon! Twist my arm…. Great dinner as always, Thank you Lauren.